Sen. Bush joins Lake County activists and professionals to promote Narcan access

Hoy - April 27, 2015 | Original article

By Marina Klauke

(This article originally appeared in Spanish.)

ARLINGTON HEIGHTS - The Illinois Senate approved a proposal Thursday that would permit the sale of Narcan, the antidote that saves the lives of those suffering overdoses of heroin or other opioids such as medication for chronic pain.

Illinois is one step away from the pharmacy sale of the antidote that reverses the effects of an overdose of these types of drug.

Senator Melinda Bush (D-31) was one of the forerunners of this proposal, and on Monday explained that the measure was approved unanimously in the Senate, and that approval in the House would allow the availability of the medicine naloxone, known commercially as Narcan, in pharmacies.

Bush made the announcement in front of the offices of Live4Lali, a group promoting access to the antidote, and that provides help to families of addicts and offers training in the use of Narcan.

As she explained, Narcan is an automatic device, injected subcutaneously in the person suffering overdose, and acts as an antidote that reverses the effects of the attack in order to buy time for the individual to be taken to a hospital for appropriate treatment.

"This proposal would allow anybody to go to a pharmacy, get training to use this medication and obtain a prescription at the pharmacy to have naloxone en their homes in case there's any member of the family, or a friend who might need it," Bush explained.

This measure would help save lives, the lawmaker said, at a time when heroin abuse is on the increase in both Chicago and the suburbs.

"We believe that the increase in abuse of opioids is due to, among other reasons, the fall in the price of heroin and on the other hand, because opioids are medication that can be found in cupboards, and it's easy to acquire them by prescription for pain," Bush said.

Dr. Adam Rubinstein, who provides rehabilitation services for opioid addicts, explained that naloxone could save the lives of persons who abuse pain medication, who could also be victims of overdose.

"In 2012, there were approzimately 2.1 million reports in this country of people who abused or were addicted to pain medication, because they were being treated for chronic pain. To put it in perspective, 94 percent of those suffering an overdose did so because of the improper use of medication, as opposed to 6 percent that were caused due to heroin abuse," Rubinstein observed.

George Filenko, Chief of the Round Lake Park Police Department, explained that 98 percent of police officers in Lake County are provided with naloxone.

"From January of this year to today, we've saved 10 lives, which makes me think of how many lives we could've saved in two years," Filenko reported.

Chris Reed, 25, of Fox River Grove, says that he was addicted to heroin and that he owes his life to a dose of naloxone.

"I was 19 years old when I suffered a heroin overdose. I remember that I couldn't breathe," Reed said, "and that I was lucky my friends took me to one of the medical installations quickly, and in that parking lot, medics administered naloxone to me. I woke up and started to recover, and the effect of the heroin was gone," Reed told Hoy.

Reed says that it's been more than five and a half years since he took heroin, and he's now part of "The Other Side," a bar in Crystal Lake that's kept free of intoxicants like alcohol, and which also serves as a nonprofit organization that provides support to persons struggling with addiction.

Rubinstein said Live4Lali's Arlington Heights office offers training in the use of Narcan and has 300 doses of automatic injectors available for free to the public.

Category: In The News

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